Colic in Babies: Causes and Remedies

This post was written by Angela Alderson and edited by Lani Sodunke.

It is only normal for a baby to have tantrums and cry, especially when hungry or sleepy. But sometimes, a baby’s normal tantrum turns into a non-stop period of fussing and crying that can’t be appeased. If this sounds familiar, your baby could have colic.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, colic is the most common complaint of new parents to pediatricians. Colic is suspected when a healthy baby cries for an extended period for no apparent reason. This is clinically defined as a baby crying for more than three hours per day, more than three days per week, for three or more weeks.

In this article, we will discuss some causes and remedies for babies with colic.

Causes of Colic

While there is no definite known cause of colic, medical professionals do agree that there are many possible contributing factors. These include:

1. Overstimulation of the nervous system

A baby could be susceptible to a new environment, especially if it is loud, noisy, bright, and full of intense audio and visual stimulations. Babies are not used to such overstimulation of their senses, which could cause them to become nervous and afraid. Since neural pathways connect the gut and the nervous system, an overstimulation of the nervous system can affect the gut, which most commonly manifests as colic in a baby.

2. Upset stomach

Your baby can have an upset stomach due to excess gas, indigestion, an imbalance of bacteria or an allergic reaction to milk. If you give your baby formula instead of breast milk, your baby can also be sensitive to formula milk, leading to excess gas. Another possible cause of an upset stomach could be overfeeding and underfeeding. All of these factors may cause colic in your baby.

3. Infection

Babies are prone to infection due to their immature immune systems. Infection can manifest in various ways, such as fever, decreased oral intake, and irritability. Fever in babies warrants a battery of diagnostic tests to rule out the most common infection causes. The stress brought about by the fever itself may trigger colic.

Remedies of Colic

A proven remedy does not exist because of the many different causes of colic. Medical professionals agree that treatment is individualized according to the specific cause of colic. As parents, we can help our babies by reducing their colic triggers and eliminating the factors that worsen their symptoms. Here are some recommendations:

1. Hold the baby in your arms

This is simple and very effective because your baby could be very sensitive to the environment. Most of the time, the baby just wants to feel close to you. This gives them the same warm feeling they had when they were still in the womb. Being held in your arms can give them the familiar feeling of comfort and safety, therefore reducing their anxiety and fears and ultimately relieving them of their colic.

2. Try to soothe your baby’s stomach

To help reduce any possible pain, gently rub the baby’s belly using your warm hands in a clockwise (intestines push in the clockwise direction) motion to massage and mend unwanted irritation. This is particularly helpful when the baby has gas or is suffering from constipation.

3. Consult with medical professionals

If a baby has colic, there are many possible causes and solutions, so it is always advised to consult with medical professionals trained to handle such situations. Parents can consult with a pediatric nurse practitioner on the best course of action for their child’s recovery. A pediatric nurse practitioner will assess your baby’s needs and help create a treatment plan that will help them conquer colic.

Bottom Line

Babies will cry and throw tantrums at any time for various reasons. As parents, you can prepare yourselves by understanding the common causes and effective colic remedies, as discussed above. However, If you think your baby has colic, please seek medical advice from your licensed healthcare provider.

Lani Sodunke

SEO & Content Manager

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